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More big international crypto platforms restrict use by Canadians as crackdown continues – Financial Post


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More of the biggest international cryptocurrency-trading platforms have put restrictions on Canadian customers in the wake of a crackdown on the sector by the country’s securities regulators.

Binance, the world’s largest crypto-trading platform by volume according to Coinmarketcap rankings , exited Ontario in June. An analysis by The Logic of the 10 crypto platforms ranked highest by Coinmarketcap shows competitors FTX, Kraken, Huobi, Bitfinex, Crypto.com and Gate.io have done the same, placing restrictions on Canada-, Ontario- or Quebec-based customers ranging from constraints on services like futures and margin trading, to outright bans.

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Talking Point

Eight months after securities regulators announced a crackdown on cryptocurrency-trading platforms, most of the best-known international ones have opted to leave the Canadian market, placing restrictions or bans on users in the country. Some, however, are putting in the time and money to comply with registration requirements—including Coinbase, which has incorporated in Canada.

The companies did not respond to The Logic ’s request for comment.

Andrei Poliakov, chief executive and co-founder of Coinberry, a Toronto-based cryptocurrency-trading platform that in August became the second in Canada to receive securities regulators’ approval to operate, said he’s pleased by the effect regulation is having on the sector. But while many foreign competitors have chosen to exit the country or place restrictions on customers, he said it’s frustrating that some appear to continue to flout the law without consequence.

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“We welcome the maturing and the growth of this industry,” Poliakov said. “Ultimately shutting down platforms that are not at that level is in the interest of both the industry and consumers.”

Canadian securities regulators announced their crackdown on the cryptocurrency-trading platform industry in March, one week after The Logic reported on an explosion of such platforms offering their services to Canadians without being registered as dealers. The Ontario Securities Commission gave platforms three weeks to start the compliance process, warning anyone who missed the deadline would face enforcement of the rules.

So far, that enforcement has consisted of the OSC seeking cease-trade orders and administrative penalties from four crypto platforms it alleges failed to meet the deadline: Poloniex , KuCoin , ByBit and OKEx .

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Poloniex now restricts Ontarians from using the platform, and OKEx limits both Ontario and Quebec residents. ByBit’s website only lists restrictions on Quebec residents, while KuCoin’s website does not disclose any restrictions on Canadians and as of Friday it remained possible to register an account with an Ontario address. KuCoin did not respond to a request for comment.

Not all large foreign crypto platforms are opting to pull out of Canada rather than register with securities regulators. Jaclyn Sales, a spokesperson for Delaware-incorporated Coinbase, told The Logic the company wants to remain active in the country and is in talks with Canadian authorities.

“We are committed to our Canadian business and our customers in Canada,” Sales said in an email. “To that end, we are engaged with the securities regulators in Canada, and working to ensure that our business is in full compliance with this year’s regulatory developments.”

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Coinbase incorporated “Coinbase Canada, Inc.,” in B.C. in December 2020 and this year has also registered the company in Alberta and Ontario, according to corporate registration documents. It currently places no restrictions on Canadian Coinbase users and the company markets itself as “the most trusted place for crypto in Canada” on its website.

Bitstamp, the platform ranked 10th by Coinmarketcap, also does not appear to place any restrictions on Canadian customers. Brina Cernetic, a spokesperson for Bitstamp, said in an email that the company couldn’t comment on why it hasn’t imposed any restrictions or whether it’s working with Canadian regulators because “doing so would be in breach of confidential undertakings we have made.”

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Matthew Burgoyne, head of the cryptocurrency and blockchain group at McLeod Law in Calgary, said he represents some international crypto platforms that are seeking registration in Canada. As they assess whether it’s worth the time and cost to register, the country is a small market, he said. “Canada’s not a top priority for them.”

Asked to comment on the fact seven of the 10 biggest international crypto platforms have placed restrictions on Canadian customers, while KuCoin continues to offer its services here despite enforcement action, OSC senior public affairs specialist Kate Ballotta said in an email that “as a general practice we do not comment on, or confirm, the status or nature of registration and compliance discussions we undertake with firms.”

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Dustin Walper, chief executive of Toronto-based cryptocurrency trading platform Newton, which is seeking registration with regulators, said the exit of some foreign platforms from Canada has been good for business. He said deposits at Newton rose in June after Binance announced Ontario customers had until Dec. 31 to close out their positions, which he attributed to people leaving Binance and other unregistered platforms.

“As a side benefit, it really does allow Canadian companies to have a little more of a leg up,” he said. “In general, it just means everyone’s on the same playing field.”

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